Tag Archives: mental health

Opinion: Suicide is preventable: we need a coordinated approach to reduce needless deaths

The reporting of suicide in the national media usually only occurs when the deceased is rich, famous, or infamous. Yet it is approximated that one person dies from suicide every 40 seconds.  A report from the World Health Organisation,  Preventing Suicide – A Global Imperative,  examines the need for urgent action to reduce suicide rates by 10% within 6 years. A tall task: made difficult as worldwide the stigma attached to mental health and suicide itself, pushes the subject into the background: an ever-growing elephant in the room. In my case an ever growing Black Dog. That according to WHO is 800 000 people a year and an estimated 20 per person who has died has attempted suicide.

In the United Kingdom, it is evident that more males than females commit suicide: in 2012, there were 4360 reported suicides of which 3400 were male, approximately 3 ½ times that of females. There is a strong reluctance with men to discuss their problems whether they be concerned with mental health or other situational circumstances. The highest rates are with men over 30 years old.

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Norman Lamb announces task force to tackle “unfit for purpose” mental health services for children and young people

Norman Lamb, Minister for Consumer AffairsWhen your child suffers from a mental health problem, be it crippling, life limiting anxiety, devastating Depression, an eating disorder, schizophrenia or any other condition which causes them suffering and distress, you want them diagnosed and treated quickly and close to home. You want them to have that support for as long as they need it, not for it to be abruptly withdrawn at a particular date on the calendar.

There is nothing more devastating for a parent than to see your child suffer. You need to …

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Opinion: What we leave behind

Robin Williams by Eva RinaldiThe death of Robin Williams is another tragic loss that at first assumptions has its roots in depression. He joins other illustrious public figures who took their own lives due in no small part to the Black Dog: Tony Hancock; Kurt Cobain; Stuart Adamson; Lord Sutch and Alexander McQueen. If it were not for a last minute change of mind, Stephen Fry in 1995: though it was again a narrow escape in 2012, when he downed pills and vodka, to be saved by the producer of the production he was filming. The Black Dog has little or no regard of fame, status, gender, or race: it is an equal opportunities illness that can strike anyone down, at anytime.

The statistics on suicide and mental health are worrying. Some key facts from Mental Health Foundation state that suicide is the most common cause of death in men under 35. The Samaritans Suicide Statistics for 2014 state that there were 5981 (UK) suicides in 2012 an increase of 291 on 2010 figures. Suicide is also more prevalent in men than women.

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Clegg: “I want to see Britain become the world leader in the next breakthrough in mental health research”

lib dem mental illness posterThe Lib Dems have unveiled plans to increase funding spent on mental health research by £50m, by 2020, as the party seeks to ensure it’s are treated as seriously as physical illnesses are. Here’s Nick Clegg:

“Mental health issues have been treated as a sort of Cinderella service compared to physical health issues. I want people who are dealing with depression to be as effectively treated as if they had diabetes. That is why I want to see Britain become the world leader in the next breakthrough

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Ending the silence

Tim Farron has written an article for the Huffington Post about his new report on youth mental health services.

He describes why and how his volunteer team produced the 127 page documents, motivated by the young people who came to his surgeries in desperate need of help:

There are then events that have a particularly profound and lasting effect on me – the deaths of young people who have struggled with mental health conditions. These tragic events and the circumstances surrounding them have brought to light serious flaws in the way in which we support our young people and the need for

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Opinion: Alice vs the System: Lessons from a lifetime of “help” from public services #2

Bubbles. White rabbit. Photo by jay turnerThis is the second article in the series about Alice and her experience of “the system.” The first can be found here. Alice didn’t legally become my sister until she was 3. Alice’s adoption was the white rabbit, I guess, that we chased for the next three years.

I was too young to fully understand the nature of the legal wrangles over her adoption. From conversations with my mum and dad, the issues were twofold. First, that as foster parents it wasn’t so easy to …

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Paul Burstow writes … Depression touches all of our lives

Depression #5 (staring at the park)Depression affects as many as 1 in 4 of us in our lifetimes, 1 in 10 adults at any one time. So the truth is, it affects all of us – whether we have experienced depression ourselves, or as partners, parents, children, siblings, friends and colleagues of those who have, and may well still suffer. The misery that it brings is cruel and pernicious – we know it shatters lives. But despite the fact that depression touches all of our lives, it is still far too poorly understood.

As Minister for Mental Health, I awarded government funding to the Time to Change campaign to challenge the stigma of mental ill health and I’m pleased to say that the funding has continued throughout this parliament, and should, in my view, continue in the next. It has been very successful and has helped change mindsets in a range of fields. Celebrities and politicians have been brave enough to talk publicly about their own experiences of depression, and it has helped.

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Check out Centre Forum’s Atlas of Variation on Mental Health

Phrenology head - mental health - Some rights reserved by evansvilleYesterday, Paul Burstow told us about the report published by the Mental Health Commission he chaired.

A few days earlier, Centre Forum produced a detailed and significant accompanying piece of work, an Atlas of Variation showing differences in prevalence, treatment and recovery from mental health conditions across England. The research, which you can read in full here,  shows huge variations in services in different parts of the country. Have a look and see where it’s a good place to have a mental illness and where you have to suffer unnecessarily as a result of poor provision.

Its conclusion shows that despite the Government’s strategy to improve mental health treatment and services, this isn t yet being felt on the ground in many places:

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Paul Burstow MP writes… Making the pursuit of happiness as important as GDP

cf reportOver the past 12 months I have been working with mental health experts and the think-tank CentreForum, grappling with the challenge of how we can improve mental health care.

Today sees the publication of our final report, The pursuit of happiness: a new ambition for our mental health. It reflects the expertise of many, makes a number of recommendations to transform not just health services, but the mental health of the nation, and it has one overarching call – that the pursuit of happiness should be a priority …

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Alice vs The System: Lessons from a lifetime of “help” from public services #1

Alice in Wonderland Central lark, New York. License Some rights reserved by -JvL-

Down the Rabbit Hole

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

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Norman Lamb writes … we must fight for mental health to get the recognition it needs

Mental health - bipolar -  Some rights reserved by Mrs TeePotIn my time as Mental Health minister, I have written here several times about the unacceptable disparity between mental health and physical health in our health system.  For far too long, physical health has been prioritised over mental health.

Perhaps the most stark difference is in terms of what happens when you suffer a mental health crisis. If you break your arm or suffer a stroke, you know that you will be taken to A&E, where you will get access to the expertise you need.

It’s very different in mental health. You may end up in a police cell or you may get sent a long way away from home to get a bed in a mental health unit. This would never be tolerated in physical health so why should it be acceptable in mental health?

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Liberal Democrats put mental health on the agenda in Holyrood and Cardiff

Phrenology head - mental health - Some rights reserved by evansvilleWe know that mental health has always been one of Nick Clegg’s top priorities. His first major speech as Liberal Democrat leader was on the subject. In the coalition, he, Paul Burstow and Norman Lamb have been pushing forward improvements to mental health care from making sure people in crisis see health professionals and not the inside of a Police cell, to a massive expansion of talking therapies to action to tackle the stigma that still exists.

A friend of mine has recently had some time off work for Depression. She wrote on Facebook, and asked people to share, the following:

What I do want to say is that until being off work for eight weeks with depression is regarded on equal footing with the same period of time off with a physical ailment of any kind ( from a hip replacement, to heart attack,stroke, badly broken limb, severe diabetes, or any of countless medical conditions ) then we will all suffer individually and as a society.

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Norman Lamb writes… Working together for better mental health crisis care

When someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, it essential that they feel able to access the help they need – and quickly. They will probably be in a state of extreme distress and confusion. Without help, people may be at risk of causing harm to themselves and those around them (cases of injury to others are actually very rare). They often end up in police cells – completely inappropriately. They may even commit suicide – and all too often, I hear tragic cases of suicide after someone has repeatedly been unable to access mental …

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Nick Clegg: “Don’t put mentally ill kids in cell”

One of the many horrible injustices faced by people in the throes of a mental health crisis is that, rather than get the medical help they need, they’re locked up in a police cell.

Norman Lamb and Nick Clegg have been doing something to ensure that these people have better care. A new Crisis Care Concordat between Police, paramedics and health services should deliver important changes:

  • Health-based places of safety and beds are available 24/7 in case someone experiences a mental health crisis
  • Police custody should not be used because mental health services are not available and police vehicles should also not be

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#Timetotalk: Norman Lamb MP responds…

I have been really impressed by the moving personal contributions on Lib Dem Voice today setting people’s own experience of mental health. It reminded me powerfully why I am a Liberal Democrat.  As Holly Matthies wrote, tackling mental health stigma is fundamentally about freedom – freedom from poverty, ignorance, and conformity.

Time to talk dayMental health isn’t something that happens to other people.  1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem at some point during their life – and everyone will know someone close to them who is affected.  And we …

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Opinion: Living and working with social anxiety disorder #timetotalk

Time to talk dayI have a severe social anxiety disorder.

There. I’ve said it. In seven words I have broken one of our last taboos: I’ve spoken of mental illness.

Today across England people are coming together to talk about mental illness and help overcome the stigma that many people still face in the twenty-first century. Time to Change are hoping to inspire one million conversations about mental health within 24 hours.

I’ve written and re-written this post three times because I’m not sure what to talk about. Because there is so much to talk about! Do I talk about my social anxiety disorder and how it affects me on a daily basis? Do I talk about the stigma I face for having a mental illness? Or do I talk about how it felt to talk to someone about having a mental illness for the first time?

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Opinion: Confessions of a manic depressive #timetotalk

Time to talk dayAfter hearing/reading a lot of negative things about people with mental health issues recently first I got angry, then I got writing. This is what I came up with:

My name is Eleanor and I am Bi-Polar/Manic Depressive/crazy. Choose whichever of these you wish, everyone comes to their own conclusion eventually but they all amount to pretty much the same thing, it just depends on how negative a spin you want to put on things I suppose. I also have a phobia of tinsel and used dishcloths. This is …

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats must let our values define our approach to mental health #timetotalk

Time to talk day“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist,” Kevin Spacey tells us, and it’s a bit like that with depression too. It’s so insidious precisely because it tries to convince you it isn’t really there, that these black thoughts and difficult days are all there is for you, and that this entirely your own fault.

This is why feeling about to talk about it at all, to be open, has such power: it lessens the isolation, fights your negative thoughts about yourself with positive ones from people who love you, and helps all of us live in a better, healthier society, because Mentally Interesting people have a hell of a lot to contribute. And while fighting stigma isn’t the only problem we face, it can be as hard as dealing with the mental illness itself.

So what can we as Lib Dems do?

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Opinion: I have never told my mother I have a mental illness #timetotalk

Time to talk day

I am writing this as I read the post on Time to Talk day by Caron . These are just my personal opinions and personal experiences and should be taken only as so.

I have suffered from Hypomania for what has been the best part of my adult life; I am 25 now. I probably had it when I was a child but my mother just put it down to being  “full of energy”. Friends have also told me that I probably have ADHD and maybe some form …

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It’s #timetotalk about mental health at Liberal Democrat Voice

Time to talk dayLiberal Democrat Voice is always “Our place to talk” but today, we are talking about mental health. Time to Change is having a national #timetotalk day. Why?

Thursday 6 February is the first ever Time to Talk Day: 24 hours in which to start conversations about mental health, raise awareness and share the message that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, neither is talking about it.

Sometimes it’s the little things we do that make a big difference – like having a chat over a cuppa, sending a text or inviting someone out. And on Time to Talk Day we’re encouraging people to do just that. In fact, we’re hoping to spark a million conversations, and we want your help to do that.

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“A wake-up call on mental illness”

Sarah Chisnall is a Scottish public affairs consultant and mental health campaigner. She’s also married to Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West Mike Crockart.

On Sunday, she wrote a powerful piece for Scotland on Sunday talking about her experience of living with Bulimia and Depression and how she pledged to speak out to tackle the stigma attached to mental illness.

The stigma surrounding mental illness prevents us from speaking out to family, friends, let alone the wider world. I have always worried what friends might think and how it could affect my career or that of my husband, Mike Crockart, who is

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Today’s Call Clegg highlights: Mental health, Benefits Street, getting more women into politics and Rennard

Call Clegg took place today because Nick is heading off to Davos. He could have easily invented some reason to get out of it but you have to respect his courage in going ahead given the furore over the past week. We’re going to start with the most important thing he talked about and work back from that

Improving mental health care for young people

He was asked about whether it was surprising that young people’s mental health was suffering when they faced low wages and not being able to find affordable housing and about mental health provision itself.

He replied:

 I announced on Monday that we’re seeking to remedy,it’s actually almost a form of institutionalised cruelty, the way that if you turn 18, if you’re a child with mental health problems…you might be given good care, good help, develop important relationships with people who are giving them support and treatment in the children’s mental health system.  And then, the moment they have their 18th birthday all of that falls away, and they’re suddenly having to deal with other people in different institutions, travel to different hospitals or clinics.

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Opinion: Closing the gap

closing the gapYesterday was an important day for anyone concerned about the state of mental health care in this country. It was also an important day for me as not only did I find myself agreeing with Nick for the fourth time in a fortnight (scary but true) but I could applaud a coalition policy.

Just over a year ago I lost my younger sister Sarah, who was suffering from schizo affective disorder.  As a family we had grown up with a bi-polar father at a time when so few of us, or the wider population, understood the condition. With my sister we understood more, but were only too aware of how little others did. I haven’t written about Sarah yet as it is still too painful – that is a story for another day. But, I have always taken a particular interest in mental health and bringing mental health services up to the standard of the rest of the health service. Even for someone like me (who is not particularly afraid to challenge), my interaction with the services has been horrendously frustrating and myself and my family nearly always felt as if we were being totally ignored. Getting anyone to do anything was like constantly banging your head against a brick wall, exhausting, frustrating and painful.

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Norman Lamb writes… Mental Health: our priorities for essential change

closing the gapSupport for those with mental health problems has come a long way since 2010. Rectifying the profound injustice in the priority given to physical health over mental health has been one of my highest priorities as Health Minister – as I know that it was too for Paul Burstow. When at least one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life, making sure they get the support they need to live independent and fulfilled lives is essential in delivering a stronger economy and a fairer society.

But there remains a very long way to go. People who rely on our mental health services – patients and carers – continue to experience unacceptable waits for services, and huge inconsistencies in the quality of provision. Some parts of our health and care system don’t do nearly enough to enable those with mental health conditions to live within their community, properly supported.

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Norman Lamb writes… managing offenders with mental illness

It is a really disturbing fact that 1 in 4 members of the prison population has a severe mental illness. Addressing this is one of the big social reforms which has not yet happened.

Far too often these conditions are diagnosed for the first time in prison. In many cases, their mental illness will have been a significant factor contributing to their criminal behaviour. If these people had been properly diagnosed when they first came into contact with police, and they had been provided with appropriate support and therapy, their offending actions might have been averted.

Identifying offenders with mental …

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Paul Burstow MP writes… Government should make New Year’s resolution to tackle mental health employment scandal

Mental health has rightly gone up the political agenda since the coalition came to power. Long neglected, mental health problems cost the UK in excess of £105 billion annually and affect one in four of the population.

Earlier this month saw publication of the most comprehensive picture of progress on mental health. The government’s Mental Health Dashboard brings together in one place mental health data from a wide range of sources for the first time. Its aim is to monitor the progress achieved in implementing the No Health Without Mental Health strategy.

My successor at the Department of Health, care …

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Norman Lamb MP writes…Another step forwards in achieving parity for mental health

It’s a bit of a cliché to say that mental health is the Cinderella service of the NHS but it’s essentially true. There is a real institutional bias against mental health. It loses out financially when budgets are tight for local commissioners and significant advances on choice and access for patients introduced by the Labour Government left out mental health.

In the time I have available to me as Care Minister, I am determined to do everything I can to combat this and the update of the Government’s Mandate – which sets out the Government’s priorities from the NHS – published yesterday, …

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New Lib Dem initiatives on mental health

Norman Lamb is no stranger to these pages writing about all aspects of his job as health minister. It’s been great to see how he’s done so much to improve mental health services and he acknowledges that there is a long way to go to get services to where they need to be.

It’s not just within government that Liberal Democrats are acting, though. I’ve become aware of two initiatives from around the country where we are trying to advance policy or campaign for better services. You may  know about more so please add them in the comments.

The first comes …

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Paul Burstow MP writes… Parity for mental health: learning lessons from across the pond

The last few weeks have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in the world of mental health. We had the very welcome announcement from Norman Lamb that the government is leading by example, with commitments from 13 departments to sign up to ‘Time to Change’. That was the good news. The bad came in the form of the thoughtless and stigmatising portrayal of mental illness in Halloween customs sold by ASDA and Tesco, companies that should have known better. The ugly could be found on the front page of The Sun with its irresponsible …

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LDVideo: Norman Lamb says he’s on a mission for better mental health care

Norman LambNorman Lamb has given an interview to the BBC about mental health provision after a joint BBC/Community Care magazine investigation found that 1700 mental health beds had been lost in recent years. To his credit, there was no spin from him, no excuses. He simply acknowledged that the current situation wasn’t good enough, explained what he’s already done in terms of better community care and changing the NHS Mandate to give mental health parity with physical health and finally said what he was hoping to achieve in the future.

He said:

I know that there are problems and I’m absolutely determined that we address them. We owe it to people who have mental health problems that we provide them with the best possible care that’s available to them. There are some great examples of care around the country but there are too many failures. It’s because there is institutional bias against mental health which has to end…

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